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MIT researchers feel cricket can eradicate caste discrimination

“SC/ST players are worse at cricket, conditional on age," the study found out.

Cricket stumps, bat and ball
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The discrimination based on caste, creed, or race is not alien to the cricket field. Over the years, there have been several such instances of casteism or discrimination in cricket. There was the apartheid in South Africa in the previous century, then there have been racial quotas in the African teams now. Now, a study was conducted at MIT, that made some interesting revelations about this aspect of the game. The experiment was a part of the socioeconomic experiment, which was carried out by the MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab.

The agenda was to see how people of different caste reacted and behaved when they got together for a game of cricket. The study, which showed cross-caste friendship and less discrimination, was led by Matt Lowe. As per the reports in Hindustan Times, Indian men in the age group between 14-30 from 8 gram panchayats near Varanasi were researched on. The MIT study showed that the people developed more friends from other castes during the matches.

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“Collaborative contact increases willingness to interact with men from other castes, reduces own-caste favoritism, and increases efficiency. In contrast, adversarial contact has no positive impacts, and can even have negative effects. Having all other-caste teammates instead of none increases the number of other-caste friends by 1.2, while having all other-caste opponents instead of none decreases the number of other-caste friends by 5.5,” the MIT study found out.

General Castes show favoritism

In one of the noted points, it was found out that the general caste usually show more favoritism than the OBCs or the SCs. They often try to outnumber the other caste people. At the same time, talking on the skill levels, the SC/ST players were found to be the worse at cricket. Their bowling average was found to be slower than that of the general caste bowlers. Also, they hit fewer fours and sixes compared to the general caste players.

“General castes show the most in-group favoritism in voting, followed by OBCs. General castes on average rank someone from a different caste 0.78 positions lower – this outgroup bias is larger than the effect of the votee being a full two standard deviations worse in bowling, batting, and fielding ability. The own-caste favoritism of SC/STs is small and statistically insignificant,” it stated further.

“SC/ST players are worse at cricket, conditional on age. Their maximum bowling speed is on average 3.45 km/h slower than that of General castes (0.34 s.d.), and they hit 0.31 fewer 4s/6s (0.24 s.d.), and catch 0.22 fewer balls (0.19 s.d.),” an interesting point was made.

Discrimination against lower castes

Adding further on the same note, the MIT study deduced that the favoritism was also seen whilst choosing the captains. The SC/ST players were less likely to be chosen as the captains of their sides. Furthermore, the teams, often discriminated against the lower castes. Some interesting numbers were put forth by the MIT study.

“In choosing captains, the batting order, and who bowls, teams can show favoritism towards one caste over others. Favoritism of upper castes exists for all three types of allocation. SC/STs are significantly less likely to be chosen as captains, and less favored in the batting and bowling orders.”

“The evidence suggests that teams actively discriminate against lower castes. Considering the coefficient on age, SC/STs are effectively treated like a General caste four or five years their junior. OBCs also appear to be less favored than General castes, but the effect is much smaller and significant only for batting order choices,” the researchers claimed.

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